I had called best friend B back in Cuzco in Peru, caught in a disgracefully early bout of homesickness and loneliness. Hearing a familiar voice for the 7 minutes I was allowed warmed me up, "so you'll be on the next flight out to Peru then yeah?" I joked, just as the snotty tone of the dead line rang out. Recharged, I went on my solo way, and we didn't speak again until Mancora a few weeks later.
"Where you being serious about coming out to South America? Coz I'll come, I've always wanted to go there anyway."
Was I being serious? I'd been so adamant I was going to do this trip alone.
"Yeah... I dunno"
"Ha" She laughed, "You, missy, never know what you want. Think about it and let me know."
I looked out to the ocean for an answer, and she just glistened back in silent knowing. She reached all the corners of the Earth, carrying couragious voyagers, offering her harvest, entertaining containers of junk and memories and material possesions floating from one house to the next.
And yet kept so much for herself.
There was a whole world for me to be alone in, what was 3 weeks of allowing a voyager to float along with me?
We agreed to meet in Bogota, Colombia, which I would reach from my last stop in Ecuador - Quito. Having turned up at the airport and been refused a flight due to having no proof of exit for Colombia, I checked into a hostel and weighed up my options. Buy a random flight? An expensive loss if my plans changed, which they seemed to be doing by the day. Book a bus? Not possible over the internet. I'd heard of people printing out fake bus tickets to provide proof of exit, so I began designing a very elaborate bus ticket from a made up Colombian bus company I ingeniously entitled "Colom-bus". Either way, if I was to meet B the next day I had 24 hours. There was a Kiwi brother and sister team leaving for the airport early the following morning, so I shared a cab with them to try my luck one more time, feeling ever more doubtful that "Colom-bus" would fly with the authorities.
As 6am came around I found myself in the airport bar with one of the Kiwi team. The brother had been refused his flight to Guatemala for the same reason as me, whie his sister was now blissfully unaware, 35000 ft up heading for central America. We had a beer and plotted ways to get out. By the time 7am rolled around an Aussie couple had joined us in seeking the same answers in the bottoms of beer bottles. When the desk opened at 8.30am, I cheerfully went to try my luck, remembering I had a ticket from Chile to New Zealand in September I could try and use. Covering the date on my ticket out of Chile, I showed the woman, who to my complete surprise took the bait and sold me a ticket to Bogota. I skipped back to the bar, jubilant, so the Aussie couple took their turn. By the time they got to the desk, the clerk had changed no a no-nonsense jobsworth, and they had no choice but to book a return flight to Quito that they were never going to use. I felt like the jammiest b***** alive.
And so I arrived in Bogota, on time to meet B. It was a city of soul and street art and cobbled backstreets hidden underneath hazes of incense, harbouring festering dreadlocks and colourful knitwear. Overlooking it was Monseratte, perched high up on a mountainside, the unavoidable panoptic blinding beacon of religion. We took a cable car to the top and explored this high altitude shrine to Jesus. He did have a breathtaking view of the city - a hectic concrete splash wedged between high cloud topped mountains. But while the city tried its best to impress, both B and I had the coast on our minds, and boarded a bus the next day to take us 20 hours north to the Caribbean sea.